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Improve Customer Service with Vendor Collaboration

Few things are more certain today than the changing nature of customer expectations. One of the most difficult demands to meet is the customer’s expectation that their experience with your brand will be consistent, whether in relation to their land or mobile phone service, wireless service, cable TV or streaming video. With a portfolio of contact center vendors, collaboration between them is an imperative for meeting demanding customer expectations for communication service providers (CSPs).

CSPs should expect that their vendors will be supportive and collaborative around change and improvement. Through the sharing of expertise and ideas, your company can progress beyond ordinary service and improve its opportunity to make customer service a key differentiator and advantage in a very competitive marketplace. Vendors willing to collaborate with their peers are also demonstrating a higher level of attention to your customers and your company.

Four Considerations for Vendor Collaboration

Although a vendor was hired based on specifications, maintaining a narrow focus in the midst of constant change may deliver on metrics, but miss on service. Sentiments expressed in one area of the business by customers may well inform the improvement to service workflows in another to raise the standards of customer experience.
Vendors may be hesitant to collaborate with their peers due to fear of competition. By creating an open discussion forum and encouraging the contribution of insights and ideas, an environment of friendly competition can be established that results in improvements across the board.
Insight to service protocols in various business units can help each vendor to better align the service delivered to provide the consistency that customers crave in their transactional experiences.
Vendor collaboration will help you determine which vendors are truly focused on helping your company to increase the level of customer satisfaction and help your company to build longer-term and loyal accounts.
How Vendor Collaboration Can Halt Customer Churn

As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. Recent research from Bain & Company finds that churn for telecommunications companies runs between 2 and 2.5 percent. For CSPs, this can mean losing over one million customers per year. With your vendors sharing insights into customer sentiment expressed at differing points of their customer journey, improving the entire lifecycle can result in lower defections.

Bain & Company found that it’s not one bad experience that causes customers to switch, but a series of bad episodes over time that finally result in the “last straw.” By spotting problems earlier, corrections can be made in a way that produces more continuity for good experiences across business units. Vendor collaboration is one of the most effective ways to combat churn because, as the research found:

“Churn will not succumb to a single initiative, because churn takes different paths and each path stems from several root causes.”

As many of your customers may use multiple products or services, analyzing the verbatim feedback from customers provided by your vendors can help to highlight root causes you may not have considered. Bain & Company shares an example where a wireline provider had been using price reductions to stem churn, but when root cause analysis was done, it discovered that its failure to upgrade its network was the source of performance issues. By investing in making the upgrades, it was able to reverse the trend.

How this manifests in a vendor collaboration scenario is if you’d been able to learn that most of the complaints across services were related to performance, rather than assuming that price and competitive offers were the cause.

The reality is that many customers will report satisfaction due to passivity. CSPs need to move beyond the perspective that if they don’t rock the boat, everything will be fine. By enabling and encouraging vendor collaboration amongst your customer service providers, you’ll be able to get a well-rounded picture of the experience your customers have over their entire lifecycle. This means you’ll be able to take actions and manage change in light of truly improving customer satisfaction, not merely fixing what breaks as it happens.